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Covers to Wrap Yourself In
“Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure. The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another. And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second. Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another. And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.
And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure. And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle. And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second. And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle. And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it. And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins.”
As soon as Adam sinned in the Garden, he sought a refuge from God. He made some fig leaves and tried to hide from God among the trees of the Garden. Men have been making refuges ever since. Every sinner has a refuge, something by which he tries to hide himself from an angry God. When the Lord God comes in saving mercy, when God comes to save a sinner by his grace, the very first thing he does is a work of demolition. He tears down every false refuge in which the sinner seeks to hide. That is what we told in Isaiah 28:14-20.
In Exodus 26 God the Holy Spirit shows us an instructive, clear picture of the refuge we must have for our souls, Christ Jesus, and the covers, covers in which we must wrap ourselves. Here, in verses 1-14, the Lord God tells Moses to make four thick coverings for the tabernacle. These coverings, called “curtains” in our Authorized Version, are great, instructive pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ and his great salvation.
The first covering is actually ten coverings of fine twined linen, bound together as one, with cherubs of cunning work interwoven in it. Remember, the tabernacle in the wilderness was typical of Christ himself, the Word made flesh, who dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14), of the church of God in this world (1 Corinthians 3:9), and of every believer (Ephesians 2:19-22).
“Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure. The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another.” (vv. 1-3)
These curtains were coupled together with loops, because God’s people are one, coupled together by the love of Christ, in one body (Ephesians 2:21-22; 4:16). Our Lord says of his church, “My dove, my undefiled is but one. The daughters saw her, and blessed her” (Song of Solomon 6:9).
“And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second.” (v.4)
The coupling of these two great curtains together, to make one tabernacle, seems to suggest that God’s elect both in heaven and earth are but one body, one church, one people (Ephesians 1:10 3:15).
“Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another. And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.” (vv. 5-6)
These fifty “taches” (buckles) of gold might have reference to “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3-5).
The second covering was a covering made by combining eleven coverings made of goats’ hair.
“And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure. And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle. And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second. And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle. And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it.” (vv. 7-13)
John Trapp observed that,“The tabernacle was goats’ hair without and gold within. God hid his Son under the carpenter’s son. ‘The king’s daughter is all glorious within’ (Psalm 45:13). And all her sons are princes in all lands. (Psalm 45:16). Howbeit, they must be content to pass to heaven as Christ their Head did, as concealed men. ‘Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew not him’ (John 1:10). ‘Our life is hid with Christ’ (Colossians 3:4) as the life of flowers in winter is hid in the root.”
Third and Fourth
The third and fourth coverings are given in the very brief statement of verse 14. — “And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins.”
There were four “curtains” or coverings for the tabernacle. Each one was different from the other. Like the four Gospels, each represented different aspects of the character and work of our blessed Savior, whose name is Wonderful. Just as we have four independent records describing the Savior in the four Gospels, so we have before us in these coverings, four pictures of our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Each Gospel narrative, like each curtain, is complete in itself; but all four are needed to give us a full revelation of the God-man, our Mediator.
The Covering of Fine-twined Linen
The gorgeous covering of fine-twined linen, the covering of blue, scarlet and purple, with its cherubim interwoven in it, was actually ten coverings made into one. Because this is the innermost covering, seen from within the tabernacle, and because it is made of ten curtains looped together, it seems obvious to me that it refers to the law of God given in the ten commandments at Sinai. This covering was laid over the golden boards and formed the interior roof of the house, or, the “covering of the tabernacle” as seen from the inside. Christ, who is the End of the law (Romans 9:30-10:11), is here exhibited in all the perfection of his glorious character as Jehovah-tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6). This covering represents Christ our Savior and all the fulness of his redemptive grace and glory.
Notice the colors used in making this covering. It was blue. This points our eyes to the heavens. How calm and impressive is the deep blue of heaven. Clouds may obscure it, but nothing can pollute it. It is high above all. No human eye can pierce it. It is illimitable, unchangeable, and eternal. How like the divine nature of the Son of Man, how like him who was with the Father before the world was. In Christ the uncreated glory, the deep blue of the unfathomable majesty of the Triune God is made visible to the eyes of understanding created in us in the new birth.
The covering was also scarlet. This color compels us to look downward and think of the red earth from which man at first was made. You will remember that the name of our father Adam means “red earth.” As the blue tells of our Savior’s divinity, the scarlet proclaims his glorious humanity. The one points to him as the Son of God, the other as the Son of Man. The hunger, weariness, and tears of our blessed Lord tell how truly human he was.
And this first covering was purple. Purple suggests royalty; but there is more than the implication of royalty here. Purple is a new color that is formed by mixing blue and the scarlet together. The union of these two colors forms a third and distinct one. How beautiful! Christ is divine, Christ is human, and Christ is both in one distinct Person. He is the God-man, the Man-God, our Savior, all God and all man in one Person, Jesus Christ the Godman! In the purple, then, we behold our Lord Jesus in his mediatorial glory, the only Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
This covering of fine twined linen had the figures of cherubs meticulously interwoven in it. What do these cherubs represent? Why are they interwoven into the covering that is seen from within the tabernacle?
Perhaps there is a suggestion here that our Lord Jesus is Lord also over the holy angels, as he certainly is. It may be that these cherubs represent Gospel preachers, who are the angels of the churches, as the seraphs overshadowing the mercy-seat represent God’s messengers.
I think there is something very precious that is represented by these cherubs worked into, interwoven in, the fine twined linen covering of blue, scarlet, and purple. These cherubs represent God’s elect, Christ’s redeemed ones, the children of God who are so completely united to Christ that we are one with him, so truly one with him that we have been made part of him, “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh!” We are described by the Spirit of God as “his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all!” The Church was interwoven with Christ, “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), by the will and decree of God, in the eternal purpose of grace which he purposed in himself. — Wonderful thought! Oh, the unsearchable riches of his grace! We were “chosen in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians1:4).
When I went to my concordance and tried to find out what the name “cherubims” means, I ran into trouble. Cherubims are simply defined as “angelic creatures.” What does the word itself mean? I want to know what the name “cherub” means. In Ezra 2:59, the word is used as the name of a city, a place. It is the same word; but as it is used to describe a thing, or used as a name, the word “cherub” means “blessing.”
These “cherubims” interwoven in the covering of fine twined linen of blue, scarlet, and purple are blessings. Christ is “the Blessed God” and “the Blessed and only Potentate;” and we are in-Christ, woven into him! We are one with him!
The Covering of Goats’ Hair
The covering of goats’ hair was made of goats’ hair spun by women whose hearts stirred them up in wisdom (Exodus 35:26). It was made from the white, downy wool at the roots of goats’ hair, the goats’ hair from which cashmere wool is woven. This goats’ hair covering was laid over and rested on the first one of fine-twined linen. Nothing wears more comfortably than cashmere; and nothing wears so comfortably on our souls as the Gospel of Christ!
Here, in the goats’ hair covering, we see the spotless righteousness and holiness of God’s elect in Christ. Without this perfect righteousness and spotless holiness that is ours in Christ, we could never enter into God’s holy hill in heaven (Hebrews 12:14; Psalm 24:3-4). But, blessed be his name forever, all who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb shall live with him (Revelation 7:14-15).
Only righteousness can be accepted with the righteous Lord God. Only holiness can dwell in communion with the Holy Lord God. Our lord Jesus Christ is made of God unto us righteousness in free justification. He is the righteousness of God imputed to us, giving us a righteous standing before God. And Christ is made of God unto us righteousness in sanctification, too. He is our holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. He is the righteousness of God imparted to us in the new birth (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
The Covering of Rams’ Skins
Neither fine linen nor goats’ hair imply suffering, but skins cannot be gotten without sacrifice. “Rams’ skins dyed red” suggest both death and transformation. The Lord Jesus is before us here as the “Man of Sorrows,” with dyed garments, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Let us put the shoes off our feet as we enter Gethsemane. and see there the skin of the Sacrifice being dyed red with the blood of agony. Try to get a picture of our Lord Jesus when he rose up in Gethsemane and went forth to meet the soldiers. He went forth to meet those representatives of the law, with his garments dyed red in his own blood. Surrendering himself to his tormenters, he commanded his captors to let his people go their way, completely free!
In this covering we have Christ our Redemption. In the “goats’ hair,” Christ our Righteousness. In the “fine linen,” Christ our Salvation. But these “rams’ skins dyed red” speak to us as believers, as sinners united to Christ by grace. We are indebted to the cleansing power of Christ’s atoning blood for our fitness to dwell in his holy presence.
The white curtain was under the red one. Purity before God cannot be had, but by the blood of Christ. Under the blood we are pure! We must be crucified with Christ if we are to live unto God. As the white covering was kept clean by the crimson covering, so may we be kept clean by a constant, ever-cleansing blood (1 John 1:7-9).
The Covering of Badger Skins
The covering of “badgers’ skins” was designed to protect the tabernacle from the elements. It was not designed for beauty, but for protection. Here, again, we see our Lord. This covering pictures Christ in his humiliation (Isaiah 52:13 - 53:1-3).
Like our Savior, the badger skin covering had to bear the heat of the day. It was exposed to the storm and the tempest. Think of our loving, gracious Lord Jesus. How he was misunderstood while being made a curse for us. Thank God, he bore it all. He answered not a word. Satan came, but found nothing in him. To the world there was no beauty in him; but to God the Father he is all-glorious, that One in whom he is well-pleased, with whom his delights have always been. And to all who know him in the experience of his saving mercy, he is precious.
Those who only saw the “badgers’ skins” saw nothing of the hidden glory within. Though Christ is still, to the world, “a root out of a dry ground,” to the child of God, to the believing sinner, who has access within the veil, he is altogether lovely.
Oh, that our hearts may be like the heart of the tabernacle, the habitation of God, or like the King’s daughter, “all glorious within.” Although our faces may have the uncomely badger’s skin appearance, yet in heart may we have the beauty of the Lord our God upon us.
These four coverings also show us a picture of the believer’s experience in relation to Christ. In our natural state of spiritual ignorance and blindness, we could only see the blessed Redeemer as the “badgers’ skins” covering speaks of him, having no beauty, no attractiveness, because we had no sense of our guilt or need. In the “rams’ skins dyed red” we have been cleansed and changed by the power of his atoning blood. In the “goats’ hair” covering we experience what it is to be made the righteousness of God in Christ. In the innermost curtain of “fine-twined linen” we walk in the light, as he is in the light, beholding his glory and filled with all the fulness of God.
Is this our experience? Do you know what it is to live within the holy of holies, in sweet, unbroken fellowship with the Holy One? This is our privilege in Christ Jesus.